Friday, 9 November 2012

Give me a bell. - Sepia Saturday

This week's prompt is entitled "Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard".

So where better to start than with the man who started it all.

Alexander Graham Bell
(By Moffett Studio -Library and Archives Canada)

Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to Ontario, and then to the United States, settling in Boston, before beginning his career as an inventor. Bell's interest in education of deaf people  lead him to invent , in 1876, his "electrical speech machine," which we now call a telephone. News of his invention  spread quickly throughout USA and Europe. By 1878, Bell had set up the first telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut.

Those early telephones are worth their place in any Sepia Saturday post.

Bell Telephone - secure connection handset 1879


 Canada is obviously very proud of its connection (no pun intended) with Alexander Graham Bell as this plaque shows.

Plaque commemorating the conception of the telephone in Bell's Brantford, Ontario home in the summer of 1874.
("Courtesy of Harry Zilber")

This short video gives a biography of the great man.

Bell's biography
His invention has had a major impact on our lives even if so many these days walk around with a mobile (cell) phone glued to their ears.

Of cause celebrities soon got in on the act at places like this.

The Mayflower Hotel

(By bdking - CC BY 2.0)

There were a number of historic events that happened at the Mayflower.

  • Charles Lindbergh celebrated his historic flight around the world in 1927
  • Blonde Bombshell, Jean Harlow was so intrigued by the hotels switchboard, she spent a morning in 192 as a stand in operator 
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote the famous line "we have nothing to fear, but fear itself" in Suite 776 in 1933
  • Harry W. Colmery drafted the original GI Bill on Mayflower stationery in Room 570 in 1943.
  • FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover had the same lunch of buttered toast, cottage cheese and grapefruit, salad and chicken soup at the same table everyday for 20 years 
  • Monica Lewinsky was deposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1999 there during the Impeachment of then President Bill Clinton
 Bell would not have been aware of Jean Harlow's interest however as he died in 1922.

Bell Telephone Memorial, Alexander Graham Bell Park, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
 (Courtesy: Harry Zilber - 2009) 
 Before you all rush off you might like to listen to a "sweet" tribute to Alexander Graham Bell.

I hope you remember the line in his biography that he considered the telephone to be a blight on his life and he refused to have a telephone in his house.

Don't let this stop you from connecting with me and others over at Sepia-saturday-151  even if you can't give me a bell..


Sandra Tyler said...

thank goodness for the old fashioned landline; it saved my 94 year old mother during this last storm so I could stay in contact.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - loved the video on Bell - so interesting to listen and watch ..

Excellent Sepia Saturday .. Give me Bell .. just incredible what some people can do ... he must have helped so many ..

Cheers Hilary

Wendy said...

What an unlikely subject for a rock song. HA! It's a good thing ol' Alex G didn't let his distaste for the telephone stop progress. Where would we be today?

ScotSue said...

I enjoyed your "take" on the theme and your interesting biography on Alexander Graham Bell. Very informative.

Peter said...

I did not know that the invention of the telephone was triggered by Bell's interest in the education of deaf people. But when I hear many people today shouting in their mobile phones I am inclined to think all his efforts were in vain :)
But thanks for all the historical facts!

Howard said...

One of the giants on whose shoulders we stand

Jo said...

The Bell home is virtually "just down the road" from us. Actually never been there. Very remiss of me.

barbara and nancy said...

Thanks for this informative post. I didn't know Bell was originally from Scotland. Also have never heard this rock song dedicated to him. Too funny.

Liz Stratton said...

Being in a battleground state during the last election here, I can empathize with Bell's feelings about having a phone in the house!

Postcardy said...

I really was surprised that he wasn't proud of his invention of the telephone and didn't want one in his own house.

Titania said...

Certainly an invention that changed; the world; the song is unusual, I wonder what prompted it?

Alan Burnett said...

It is great to be back Bob and to take another of these magical mystery theme tours with you. As always full of interest and entertainment.

Susan Kelly said...

Terrific post with such great information.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Until I read this I had forgotten that Bell was not born here and that he never owned a phone. This was an interesting historical tribute to the man who started it all. Wonder what he'd think today with all the "smart phones" etc.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Bob! What a great idea, to tell us all about Mr. Bell. If he hated the telephone, I can only imagine how he would feel about cell phones.

Kathy Morales said...

Listening to the tribute song as I write - never heard that before! Bell certainly changed the world!

Joy said...

That is an impressively sized memorial to Bell. Love those fun facts connected to the hotel, all wrapped up with bit of Glam rock. Superb.

Jana Last said...

Interesting that he didn't have a telephone in his home. And now it's hard to imagine NOT having a phone at home or with us wherever we go!


That music was certainly odd [and unknown] to me, still too early in the morning to be fully receptive, perhaps...
Yes, I guess there is some pride to think that it originated from Canada... though many are nowadays most likely unaware of that fact. He did indeed decline having one at home as this was something only meant to finance his "more important" work...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I hope you remember the line in his biography that he considered the telephone to be a blight on his life and he refused to have a telephone in his house.

I know the feeling! I live in Ohio, and my phone has been robo-called for two months straight...all day! (In spite of paying ATT $2/month for an unlisted number, and being on the national "do not call" list.)

Tattered and Lost said...

I have to admit that the past few weeks I was ready to cut the line as political calls came in. I loath the sound of the phone ringing. I think it's the cheap phones these days. I don't remember the old ring from long ago being so obnoxious.

Thanks for the trip down Bell lane!

Kat Mortensen said...

Thoroughly enjoyable post, Bob. I don't know offhand why, but there is also an Alexander Grahsm Bell Museum in Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia ( thank god my mother isn't reading this, she'd kill me!).

Nice segue at the end, by the way.

Prenter said...

Thanks for the information about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of the telephone. He has changed the world. Where would we be without our phone?

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

Many of us have a love hate relationship with the phone. Love it when in dire need to connect. Loved this post and all the great info.

Mike Brubaker said...

Alexander Graham Bell features prominently in a great book I read this summer, "Destiny of the Republic" by Candice Millard. It's about the attempted assassination of President Garfield and Bell's effort to invent a machine that could detect the bullet. It's a fascinating story and Bell comes off as a remarkable inventor, even without the telephone.

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

Great post! I too, mentioned Alexander in my post - I had no idea he that besides the phone he contributed so much else to our society, but then I enjoy history so much more now than when I was young! I'm sure he could have had no idea how far his telephone invention would go - I bet he would be stunned if he saw the world of communication of today!